“We want opportunity. We want the black actors to get the same opportunities as white actors. That’s it.” Comedian/host Chris Rock said it perfectly during his opening monologue at the 88th Academy Awards.
The subject of racial diversity in Hollywood has always been a controversial debate. In an industry dominated by White people, African Americans, as well as other people of color, are rarely recognized for their talent.
This marks the second year in a row that the Oscars have not nominated anyone of color for an award. This should be met with outrage considering that 2015 saw the uprising in black actors with the major success of “Straight Outta Compton” and the immaculate critical reception of “Creed.”
This year’s Oscars shook me to my core. The reason was because “Creed” had one nomination this year, which was “Best Supporting Actor.” Sylvester Stallone is a good actor, maybe even a decent guy, but the fact that Michael B. Jordan wasn’t nominated for best actor really infuriated me.
His performance was the biggest part of the film’s critical reception, one that brought me to tears.
According to “The Economist,” since 2000, only 10 percent of Oscar nominations have gone to Black actors. Their Hispanic peers have only received 3 percent, moreover, Asians have received 1 percent and 2 percent to people of different ethnicities. It’s hard to believe out of all the amazing actors of color, so few of them get recognized for their abilities.
The Academy Awards is made up of more than 5,000 members who are predominantly white, and they’rethe ones who cast the nominations. After seeing statistics like these, shouldn’t the Oscars' voting system go through a major overhaul and become one that not only incorporates more people of color, but more women as well?
I’m sure some people believe that Hollywood isn’t racist, or we are just blowing things out of proportion. However, according to a study done by University of California, Los Angeles in 2013, it found that a mind-blowing 83 percent of lead actors portrayed in film were white. Furthermore, they found 82 percent of directors, as well as 94 percent of show creators, were white.
University of Southern California had a similar study in where it examined the top 500 grossing movies between 2007 and 2012. The study found during 2012 alone, an abysmal 10.8 percent of speaking characters were African American. In addition, only 4.2 percent were Hispanic, 5 percent were Asian and 3.6 percent were from other mixed ethnicities. Both USC’s and UCLA’s study shows this is an issue that deserves everyone’s attention.
Film, actually ALL of media, should represent what America really is. A country that is full of diversity and one that is ever growing. Yet Hollywood refuses to grow with it. If the major backlash that emerged when the Oscar’s first showed their nominees isn’t a cause for concern, then what is?
As a person of color, I want to see more people that look like me on screen. I want to see Hispanics, African Americans and many other ethnicities be represented in our media and culture.
Furthermore, I want to see them be recognized for their hard work and talent, just like any of us would. The question still stands, “Is Hollywood racist?” In the words of Chris Rock, “You damn right Hollywood’s racist.”